Boathouse 4 summer festival draws more than 6,000 visitors across the weekend

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AN HISTORIC naval boathouse hosted an open weekend of family fun.

Boathouse 4 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard gave visitors an exclusive look at all it has to offer as part of its summer festival at the weekend.

People of all ages flocked to the free event, held from Friday to Sunday, where they enjoyed a host of exhibitions and activities celebrating traditional and heritage crafts.

Giving a dramatic demonstration was 25-year-old Groundlings Theatre actor Jack Tutt – who was playing one of the ‘cockleshell heroes’ of 1942.

Seeking to educate passersby on the story of the 12 ‘unsung’ marines – whose mission was to row around Bordeaux in canoes, planting mines on the sides of German boats in the dead of night – Jack said: ‘The story of these brave men is fascinating – it’s incredibly rewarding.

‘Some people have no idea who these people were, but even Churchill himself said the work they did helped to shorten the war by up to six months.’

Exclusively across the weekend, Tudor shipwrights from The Mary Rose Museum provided live woodwork demonstrations – resulting in the construction of a portion of decking similar to that used on Henry VIII’s flagship.

Visitors were also given full access to the boathouse’s International Boatbuilding Training College, which usually only opens once per day for a guided tour.

Chloe Birch, 11, who attended the event with her family, said: ‘I like that you can take part in lots of things and go up close and touch all the boats.’

Volunteer outreach officer at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Neil Bertram, who organised the summer festival, said the event was a great success.

He said yesterday: ‘We’ve had a whole programme of events here across the weekend and we’ve had about 2,200 visitors each day – we’re so pleased.’